Was Leo Varadkar correct that polls have indicated a UK desire to remain in the EU?



The BBC shows several UK papers with front page headlines that the Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) has said that polls in the United Kingdom have indicated a majority of those recently surveyed wished the UK to remain in the EU.

This website shows polls which, since July 2017, appear to confirm this view.

Can this statement be considered correct, or is there evidence to the contrary?


Posted 2019-10-04T12:34:12.140

Reputation: 655


I haven't got any evidence to the contrary. Here's yougov page that shows a similar graphic. People who think the wrong decision was made on brexit > Right decision since September 2017. It's probably worth noting that these polls will include people who were not allowed to vote in the original referendum such as 3million EU nationals living in the UK. Which would already have been enough to change the result in 2016.

– Jontia – 2019-10-04T13:06:17.657

3@Jontia also, many voters since became eligible to vote as they got older or received citizenship. Likewise many voters passed away due to old age. Which is also why making a referendum with a 50% threshold won't get you a consistent result. – JonathanReez – 2019-10-04T15:56:30.203

4It seems like the answer to the question as asked is objectively yes: polls do show greater support for Remain currently. Is the question more about whether those polls are accurate? Or if there's evidence that they would translate to a Remain win if a 2nd referendum was held today? – divibisan – 2019-10-04T18:08:22.923

1This would have been a great question on Skeptics, especially since we had a definitive claim, e.g. in the Telegraph "The Irish premier said that “all the polls” since Mr Johnson became Prime Minister showed the UK wanted to Remain, but “their political system isn't able to give them that choice”." – Fizz – 2019-10-04T23:56:40.553

Apparently the claim is true for the most recent polls: https://twitter.com/jrmaidment/status/1179753489452425218 it's not clear if that extends all the way to back to when Boris became PM, which is the full claim.

– Fizz – 2019-10-05T00:15:53.000

@divibisan - I'd intended it as is, but that was partly in the hope there would/could be subsequent questions, and those are good ones (and probably better for this SE). – ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere – 2019-10-05T08:35:38.760

@fizz - Good point about Skeptics - wish I'd thought of that. It's always seemed very particular about types of questions and answers, so I've been lurking there more than I should. – ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere – 2019-10-05T08:39:39.673



A dedicated Wikipedia user group has been updating the polling on the related page with every poll since the referendum.

It is clear that Remain is the favoured position across the polls at the moment, you can see the needle shifting with each Brexit setback.



Posted 2019-10-04T12:34:12.140

Reputation: 196

Probably worth noting that those polls show the last in favour of leave result in Jan 2018, six months after the date in the question and none show a lead for either decision bigger than the "undecided" column. – Jontia – 2019-10-09T12:56:48.390


@Jontia: There was still one poll (out of 54) in favor of Leave and another that was a draw earlier this year according to the (conservative) Evening Standard.

– Denis de Bernardy – 2019-10-09T13:03:31.043


A new ComRes poll for ITV now provides evidence to the contrary. Based on a poll of 26,000 people ComRes concluded;

More people’s preferred outcome is now for the UK to leave the European Union (50% v 42% remain).

However, when the “don’t knows” (of those expressing an opinion) are excluded, over half say their preferred outcome is for the UK to leave the EU (54%) compared to less than half who say their preferred outcome is for the UK to remain in the EU (46%)

ComRes surveyed 26,000 British adults on 2nd – 14th October 2019. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults.

There's no indication on the ComRes page why this poll is out of step with those over the last two years. The major change is obviously that this poll comes after Johnson took over as PM.


Posted 2019-10-04T12:34:12.140

Reputation: 18 509

3It looks from the downloadable .pdf like that poll used a "net" value for "leave", adding together two mutually exclusive answers (with/without a deal). Not arguing with your answer - the poll is a fine illustration of assumptions made in the 2016 referendum. – ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere – 2019-10-16T11:38:41.323

@ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere I agree. There's no drill down into if "With a Deal" would then prefer No deal or Stay in EU as a 2nd choice. – Jontia – 2019-10-16T11:56:00.453